A married couple, both Anglican priests, have moved from Ireland to the United States so that they can live together. As rectors in the Church of Ireland, Christopher and Paula Halliday were required by canon law to live within their separate parishes 55 kilometers apart—which meant long journeys and occasional meetings.Interviewed by telephone by Ecumenical News International (ENI) early in March, two days after they arrived at their new home in the US state of Maryland, the Hallidays explained that the Episcopal Church of the USA had no rules about where priests should live. So they are settling in together at Christopher's rectory in Valley Lee, in the rural southern part of the state. Paula's parish is in Leonardtown, just 16 kilometers away. Both pointed out that in the US congregations were not based on geographical areas as was usual in Anglican churches Ireland and England, so the question of the priest living in the midst of the community did not necessarily arise."People choose a church that seems like home, where they feel valued," they explained. This applied also to Americans' choice of religious affiliation. "Most worshipers in Episcopal churches are not cradle Episcopalians," said Christopher. The Hallidays have been married for 30 years. They said their time in America was to be their "last great adventure."Christopher is English and Paula is from Northern Ireland. They were living in the Irish Republic at Rathdrum, County Wicklow, when Paula began training for the ministry in 1991. When she became a curate in 1994 she moved to her new parish.Paula declined to complain about the Irish church's rule that rectors live within their parishes. She also declined to say whether the U.S. or Irish system is better. "It's just a difference," she said.However she said that "geographical parishes give the worshiping community a sense of intimacy, which you don't quite get here." But she felt that with priests increasingly serving multiple parishes the church might "have to look at it again."The Hallidays' disconnected lifestyle might have continued indefinitely but for a meeting with an American clerical couple on holiday in Ireland. The couple pointed out that in the US the two priests could stay together.Before deciding to emigrate, the Hallidays did summer parish duty in the U.S. Christopher said: "Americans expect a great deal from their professionals, but are prepared to give a great deal of time and effort supporting them."An immediate practical difference is the fact that both Christopher and Paula have professional secretaries—"unheard of in Ireland or England."Paula's parish also has a musical director. Christopher's does not, although, fired by his wife's good fortune, the post already exists as a gleam in his eye.Copyright © 2000 Ecumenical News International. Used with permission.

Related Elsewhere

See a February 18 Irish news report on the Hallidays through RTÉ News Online (RealPlayer required).